Series Preview: Dodgers at New York Mets (April 23-25)

After a brutal 6 game losing streak where it seemed like just about anything that could go wrong for the Dodgers did go wrong, the Dodgers stole one in Baltimore on Sunday.

Now, after a day of rest, the Dodgers bring their 8-10 record to Citi Field for a matchup with the New York Mets, who are 9-8 and come into this series 3 1/2 games back of the Atlanta Braves in the National League East.

The Dodgers pitching rotation gets a little bit thinner.  Chad Billingsley was unable to go on Sunday with a sore elbow and for the moment his rotation spot belongs to Stephen Fife, who pitched fairly well under tough circumstances in 4 2/3 innings of work.  Billingsley has received even more bad news and is undergoing Tommy John surgery today.  Billingsley will be lost for the remainder of this season and at least a portion of next.  Billingsley joins fellow starters Chris Capuano and Zack Greinke on the DL, and the once-overloaded Dodger starting rotation looks a little thin only one month into the season.

Matt Kemp appeared to start coming out of his month-long slump, getting 3 hits in two of the three games down in Baltimore and driving in and scoring key runs in the series finale on Sunday.  If Kemp continues his improvement in New York, it gives the Dodgers a much better chance at taking their 3 game set with the Mets and going back to Dodger Stadium this weekend with a little momentum after ending a 6 game losing streak.

The Mets are getting good offensive support from David Wright, recently signed to a long-term extension.  Wright’s .311 average, 2 homers and 14 RBIs have been a big reason why the Mets have had a lot of early season success, and his continued success will be key to the Mets’ chances in the East.

The big story so far for the Mets this year, however, is young right-hander Matt Harvey.  Harvey has won his first 4 starts this season and has blazed his mid-90’s fastball to an 0.93 ERA.  In his last outing, Harvey beat Washington Nationals ace Stephen Strasburg, pitching 7 innings and giving up 1 run on 4 hits while striking out 7 and walking 3.

Here are your matchups for this mid-week 3 game set at Citi Field in Queens.

Tonight’s 4:10 p.m. Los Angeles time game features Clayton Kershaw (2-2, 1.88 ERA) going for the Dodgers against lefty Jon Niese (2-1, 3.80 ERA).  Kershaw struggled significantly in his last start despite picking up Career Strikeout # 1000 and looks to get back on track against the Mets.  Niese is coming off a quality outing against Colorado in which he went 6 innings and gave up 3 runs but unfortunately took the loss.

Tomorrow’s matchup, also a 4:10 p.m. local time start, will feature Ted Lilly (0-o, o.oo ERA) making his season debut for the Dodgers against Matt Harvey (4-0, 0.93) for the Mets.  Lilly will look to pick up where he left off last year, where he was strong in the early going before suffering what turned out to be a season-ending injury in May.  Harvey will look to build on his hot start and improve his April record to 5-0.

The series finale will be on Thursday afternoon, a 10:10 a.m. start back here at home, 1:10 p.m. New York time.  Hyun-Jin Ryu (2-1, 4.01 ERA) will go for the Dodgers against righty Jeremy Hefner (0-2, 7.07 ERA) for the Mets.  Ryu had a no-decision his last time out against Baltimore, giving up 5 runs in 6 innings pitched, while Hefner is coming off an outing that saw him give up 3 earned runs in only 4 innings of work last week against Colorado.

Will the Dodgers’ offense break out in this series, or will Matt Harvey and company be able to shut them down?  The next 3 games will tell the story.

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